Here are our plans and some extra ideas for celebrating the liturgical year in the month of November. Counting Halloween, those first three days are pretty busy and I have a lot of information so I’ll be breaking up Advent, December and Christmas up into another post . . . coming soon!
I pray that these suggestions help you in exploring your faith in your own domestic church – they have certainly been inspiring mine!
Solemnity of All Saints Day – November 1
On November 1st we celebrate all the saints, canonized or beatified and the multitude of those in heaven who are known only by God. This is a good day to pray the Litany of the Saints with your family. As this page notes, this day should inspire us with hope,
“Among the saints in heaven are some whom we have known. All lived on earth lives like our own. They were baptized, marked with the sign of faith, they were faithful to Christ’s teaching and they have gone before us to the heavenly home whence they call on us to follow them. The Gospel of the Beatitudes, read today, while it shows their happiness, shows, too, the road that they followed; there is no other that will lead us whither they have gone. . . .
We all have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in His footsteps and conform [our]selves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. [We] must devote [our]selves with all [our] being to the glory of God and the service of [our] neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium, 40). “
All Souls Day – November 2
On this day we celebrate and pray for all the souls of the faithful who have departed from this world. This is the day when we traditionally pray for the souls in Purgatory who are in the process of being purified for heaven. The Church believes that on this day (and all days, but specifically on this day) the Church Militant (those of us alive here on Earth) and the Church Triumphant (all of the saints in heaven) pray together for the holy souls in purgatory so that they may soon be welcomed into heaven.
Frankly, because I was raised a Protestant, I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of purgatory. I’m finding help through some of these links:
From Father Robert Voigt
From Father John Hardon
From James Akin (this one is really helpful – especially, for me, from Teaching vs. Speculation through the end of the article)
and, a few years before I became Catholic I stumbled upon this book, surprisingly written by a Quaker and a Baptist, which began opening my heart to the idea. I don’t agree with everything in the book, it is a bit too universalistic to me and I think that there are some people who will go to hell, Jesus said so, after all, but it’s just another viewpoint from a non-Catholic source.
On All Souls Day most people remember their families and friends who have passed away, by attending mass (all masses on this day are a requiem), praying for their souls and just spending time with their families. This is the day to bring out the old photo albums and Grandpa’s war medals and great grandma’s recipe box and introduce your children to their great family members who have passed on.
In our family we are kind of linking October 31-November 2nd as one giant festival/commemoration. When John is older I’d love to host an All Hallows’ Eve Party (the links in the following paragraph both have great ideas for parties) where the children have the opportunity to dress up, we have crafts, drink cider and remember those who have passed on. One of my newest favorite bloggers, Jessica, just posted a ton of great ideas on this very topic!
This page has some great history, historic ways to celebrate, suggestions, and information for sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day in your domestic church. And don’t forget this page which I’d linked in my previous post specifically for Halloween.
I like this idea for quickly switching over from Halloween to All Saints Day on November 1st. It is a great way to keep those pumpkins around, as well as a neat surprise for children in the morning!
When I saw this All Saints and All Souls Day tree, I immediately flagged the link to come back for inspiration. This would be a great way to introduce your children to special family members that have passed on before they could meet them, as well as focus on special saints that your family has learned about throughout the year
In Mexico Dia de Los Muertos is a huge feast day. Frequently on November 1st all the saints and the souls of children are celebrated while November 2nd is all other family members and friends. The family altar in their homes is normally spruced up with pictures of the deceased, some of their favorite foods, candles and flowers (specifically, marigolds). To some American eyes traditional Mexican art for this day may seem a bit macabre (lots of skulls and skeletons) but I appreciate what this link states, “Dia de los Muertos art is meant to show the duality of life, which is that it can only exist surrounded by death. This is reality, not superstition. The artwork is meant to show this and make it, death, a part of life, to be accepted and acknowledged instead of feared.”
I also like how this author focuses on the Christianity of the Mexican traditions.
If you’re thinking about using some of the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos traditions in your home, here are a few ideas. . .
Here are two links with directions for making papel picado with your children, a traditional decoration for many Mexican celebrations from weddings to feast days to Posadas at Christmas time to birthday parties, but especially prevalent for Dia de Los Muertos
Here is a recipe for pan de muerto, a Mexican sweet bread frequently flavored with orange and/or anise.
And here are some resources for making sugar skulls
Phew! That was a busy three days! We’re going to take a rest until the middle of the month . . .
St. Margaret of Scotland – November 16
St. Margaret of Scotland is a great example of a godly wife and mother. As the Queen of Scotland (she married Malcolm, son of King Duncan (famously killed by Macbeth), she was a strong Christian example to her people and brought beauty and civilization to her people. She was instrumental in reforming the church in Scotland. Known for her piety, she served orphans, the hungry and the poor daily, often feeding them before eating herself, and was a devout Catholic, praying and studying from her prayer book and a book of the gospels late into each night.
To commemorate Saint Margaret’s feast day, this would be a great day to serve the poor, by donating or serving food at a homeless shelter, or working with or for orphans. Some fun craft ideas include making book covers, bejeweled like Margaret’s, for a copy of the Gospels, or to construct a prayer book of one’s own (maybe a prayer journal with a blank journal for those children a bit older?). For quiet time, here is a three-part story that is perfect for reading to younger children or for older children to read on their own about the life of Margaret and her influence on the people of Scotland.
As she often fed the hungry (which is everyone in my house) making a traditional Scottish recipe would be another great tradition. Cocky Leeky Soup with a side of Ayrshire Bacon Dumplings sounds good to me! Some hot whiskey punch for the adults doesn’t sound too bad either . . .
Click here , here and here to learn a bit more about her . . . both she, as well as Elizabeth of Hungary (below) are inspirations to me as godly wives and mothers.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary – November 19
I will be honest and confess that I’d never heard of Elizabeth of Hungary until I began researching the Saints for this month a few months ago. Now I can’t get enough; she’s a favorite and an inspiration!
Elizabeth married a prince (becoming a princess) and was devoted to her husband and family. She was also especially devoted to the teachings of Christ. Rather than indulging in the excesses of royalty, she gave everything she could to the poor and sick, down to her royal robes and grain from her own pantry. She built a hospital for the sick and regularly gave bread to the hungry. Legend has it that once, when secretly taking bread from the palace to give to the poor, she was caught by her husband. When forced to show what was under her mantle, the food miraculously turned into roses. Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers. Bread, a spinning wheel (which she is said to have used after her widowhood to provide for her family), her royal crown and roses are frequent symbols used for her.
And a post that I appreciated about her positive Christian influence to married women.
Some ideas that I have to celebrate this feast day include making mini loaves of bread to share with family, friends and neighbors, along with a small prayer card or information about the Saint. Here is a recipe for a Hungarian Braided Bread but I’m also considering trying my hand at a whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread from this book. If you know how to knit or sew, making baby blankets or scarves to give away on this day to a battered woman’s shelter or a hospital or a homeless shelter would be a great idea, as does visiting those (or even praying for those) in the hospital.
And, of course, what could be better for dinner with fresh baked bread than a hot bowl of Hungarian Goulash?
Presentation of the Theotokos – November 21
The Presentation of the Theotokos (Mother of God) is celebrated by Catholics, but is also one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox church. This is an extensive, but very interesting article on the history of the Orthodox church and this particular feast day. In the linked article it states
“It [the feast] symbolizes Mary’s wholehearted submission to the will of God and serves as a reflection on the holy and honorable destiny of the Holy Mother. Metaphorically, the theme of the feast is that Mary, the Temple of the Living God, is offered to the Lord; thus the bond between Christ the Word, and Mary, the Theotokos, is forged for all eternity.”
The readings and prayer for the day are available here. Ideas to celebrate this feast include a coloring page for children, or you could have them make their own icon for the feast. This link also has some ideas. In the Orthodox Church this is a day of fasting, however it is a relatively relaxed fast as oil, fish and wine can be consumed (but abstinence from animals containing red blood and dairy products is required). If you’d like to follow their lead, maybe a bouillabaisse for dinner followed by individual rose cakes for dessert (as roses are a symbol for Mary).
Thanksgiving – November 27
Though it is an American and not technically a religious holiday, we will certainly be celebrating Thanksgiving and I’m hoping to bring a bit more faith into the mix this year (though my husband’s favorite parts of it – food and football, will still be added in healthy doses, I’m sure!). We will attend mass (the prayers and readings for the day are here), watch the Macy’s Day Parade (MY tradition!) and enjoy time together as a family.
I’ve been loving the idea of writing out what you are thankful for and organizing it in some sort of craft. Whether on strips of paper that are stapled into rings for a decorative garland, or written on leaves made of construction paper that are then fastened into a wreath for the wall (this family did something similar using real leaves that they revisit and add to every year) or bound in a blank prayer journal to be added to each year, focusing on what we are thankful for and expressing it is an important part of the day.
This idea for a Thanksgiving box added to throughout the year is beautiful.
Advent – November 30 – December 25
The first Sunday of Advent is November 30th. I’ll be focusing on Advent, December Saints and Feasts and Christmas in an upcoming post. . . .
Please keep our family in your prayers!